With over 500 million active members worldwide, twitterites generate over 340-million tweets per day. Pakistan is certainly not immune to the chattering revolution that is unfolding online. Replacing the culture of communal dialogue on street corners is the practice of tweeted headlined announcements and proclamations. The Internet literate urbanites in Pakistan are busy creating digital versions of their social networks that appear more like digital ghettos.
Twitter is part of the Internet innovation that has made microblogging possible. With a twitter account, one can post real-time updates and text messages online where messages are restricted to 140 characters in length. Twitter makes it possible for others to receive your live updates. Those who follow you are called ‘followers’. Thus Twitter is a ‘place’ where some are following you while you are following others.
Twitter is not much different from the world of peerymureedy where the leader (the peer) has his disciples (followers in Twitter speech) while the peer himself follows a certain tradition (tareeqa). Those with most followers on Twitter often follow a relatively much small number of others. Thus new digital constituencies have taken birth where academics, actors, journalists, politicians, and singers have set up their digital monasteries (khanqahs). And just like the worth of a cult leader is determined by the number of his disciples, the digital worth of twitterites is also determined by the number of their followers.
The biggest twits (twitter users with large following) are based in the West and are usually singers and actors. Lady Gaga (an American singer) tops the charts with 29-million followers followed by the Canadian singer Justin Bieber with 27.5-million followers. Katy Perry with 26-million and Rihanna with 25-million followers own the twitter podium with Lady Gaga and Justin.
In Pakistan, the twitter podium is owned by politicians and journalists rather than singers and performers. Imran Khan, the cricketer turned politician, with 355,000 followers is perhaps the most followed on Twitter from Pakistan. If twitter were an electoral district, Imran Khan with 356,000 votes is guaranteed a win. Shahshi Tharoor, a former UN staffer and an Indian politician and author, enjoys the following of 1.48-million digital disciples. Shashi follows only 300 fellow Twitterites.
Imran Khan’s PTI has been a smart user of Twitter. As Imran Khan visited Astore in the Northern Areas, his trip was tweeted live to his followers. On his return flight, Khan tweeted photographs of the picturesque mountains and lakes.
Ali Zafar (singer and actor) and Mubasher Lucman (journalist) each with approximately 150,000 followers trail Imran Khan. Other notables in Pakistan’s Twitter-land include Marvi Memon, Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal Zardari and Sharmila Faruqi.
Losing sleep over nothing
While Twitter is dubbed as a social network, the most networked are perhaps the most sleep-deprived. The desire to be
Raza Rumi a Pakistan-based writer and development professional, however has been tweeting hot and heavy. With over 52,000 tweets to his credit, Rumi had a lot to tweet about. A scan of his 3,200 Tweets between July and September 2012 revealed that he also tweets mostly in the small hours of the morning or later in the evening.
Unlike Raza Rumi, the Karachi-placed politician Sharmila Faruqui tweets mostly in the afternoon. With 11,000-plus Tweets Ms. Faruqui is one of the most active female voices on the Internet based in Pakistan. Her most recent 3,200 Tweets suggest that she usually tweets between 2:00 and 5:00 pm. Based on the count of the hashtags she mentioned in her Tweets, Ms. Faruqi mostly tweeted about Pakistan, Peoples Party, and Imran Khan’s PTI.The network